Havering police tell lost Harold Wood seven-year-old Akvile Babkauskaite to get on a bus

A pair of good Samaritans in Collier Row spent four hours helping a lost little girl and her non-English-speaking grandfather find their way home – after police suggested they “put them on a bus”.

Seven-year-old Akvile Babkauskaite, who travels to school in Dagenham from Harold Wood, had moved with her family to Kettering Road a week previously and was not yet familiar with the area.

After getting on the wrong bus, Akvile and her Lithuanian grandfather – who doesn’t speak a word of English – found themselves lost. With only Akvile able to ask for help, they approached retired Judy Smith, 65, on Clockhouse Lane, who knocked on a nearby door and waited while a couple called the police.

Four hours later, Mrs Smith and her husband Bob, 65, of Victoria Avenue - along with the Clockhouse Lane couple Monica and John - ended up driving the lost pair around in their own car in the hope they would recognise their surroundings.

“Five calls were made,” said Mrs Smith. “The police never turned up at all.


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“As a police car came along Clockhouse Lane on another call, we approached them. They just said ‘put them on a bus and they’ll find their way home’.”

At one point, Mrs Smith was told the police were dealing with 26 incidents in front of her in the queue.

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Eventually Akvile got her bearings and was able to direct Mr and Mrs Smith back to Kettering Road, where Akvile’s mother Gitana Babkauskiene was beside herself.

“In my mind, I thought maybe something had happened. My father doesn’t speak English,” said Mrs Babkauskiene, 31. “In one hour I just thought about all my life – from when my daughter was born to the last day I saw her.

“If you are a mother and you have children, you understand.”

Mrs Smith said it was only thanks to Akvile’s recollection of the area that they were able to get her home.

“Bearing in mind she had only lived in that house a few days, I thought she was a very remarkable child,” she added.

Mrs Babkauskiene, a trainee hairdresser, told the Recorder she was very grateful to Mr and Mrs Smith, and Monica and John, for helping her daughter and father. “Later, I thought: maybe I should have paid these people for petrol. I didn’t offer them a cup of tea. I wanted to give them presents – but at the time I was just in shock, and I just kept saying, ‘thank you very much, thank you very much’.

“People sometimes are so good.”

A spokesman for Havering police said: “Police were called to an incident whereby a seven-year-old child was in company with an appropriate adult. This was not graded as an emergency call due to the fact that an adult was present.”

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